It would have come as little surprise that having secured a number of client meetings in Melbourne, I, Train, of Line & Length fame, decreed that no expense would be spared in the search for Melbourne’s best steakhouse. Facebook, of all things, became the medium of choice and respondents Darren Trembath, John Gooding and Jeremy Fry were quick to post glowing recommendations on behalf of “Vlados”.
Vlados is a discreet eatery nestled unobtrusively along Bridge street in Richmond, unremarkable from the exterior in almost every way: dark bricks; a door, perhaps made of wood, perhaps not; a sign, the name Vlados featuring prominently and no front window. Quite easy to miss actually. Not so easy to miss was close colleague and friend of 20 years, Stanwah a prominent thinker and designer of things of prominence. Train and Kdub are 45mins late thanks to the glacial progress along Punt road of what must have been half of the Yaris’ and black, post-2003 BMWs in the free west. After trading barbs, as is our wont, our attention turned not to the menu but to our host who grimly surmised that we would be devouring our three courses in well under an hour, placed one perfectly crafted sausage on each of our entrée plates. A bold move, I thought. One (hyphenated) word, “freakin’-exquisite”. Bursting with flavour, seamless texture and nothing but gobsmacked, slo-mo chewing.
Plates were wordlessly cleared by our middle-aged waiter as we considered the glory of the humble beef sausage when prepared by the hands of a seasoned veteran that gives a damn. Moments later a tasting dish is set before us. Liver, lamb, steak, slivers of goodness cooked separately as each piece stood apart: some rare; a morsel there, well-done; and other tasty bites cooked medium. Brilliant. Part way through our ketonic reverie another revelation. Our waiter, using an economy of words, presents a tray of meats, each assigned an exclusive area, a sort of quarantine so the other pieces might enjoy their own moment in the sunshine of our admiring gazes. It was made clear to us that we should choose the piece of meat that appealed most to our individual palate and it would be cooked to our specifications.
A break in the conversation about the differences between L&L and other agencies extending beyond our fascination with the nuances of intimidating fast bowling allowed a glance up at our waiter in deep discussion with the chef. An animated exchange was in progress as the chef, again a man in the prime of life, wise beyond reckoning, finally nodded, and plucked with a gloved hand the meats we had selected only moments earlier. Could he be? Yes, he is. He’s actually gently pounding the meat with his fist, expertly kneading and massaging the fleshy fare to ensure a consistency of texture that might be considered de-riguer amongst fine dining institutions in and around Melbourne’s fine elite eateries.
Again, the whitest of white crockery served as a featureless backdrop to a lone cut of quality meat. The weight of the steak knife was enough to coerce a moist and ultimately delicious morsel to part company with the steak proper and the taste… a triumphant reminder of what good eating is all about. Like a striated fine wine, the palette savours the supple slice, so succulent, rich in flavour a joy forever or at least until the next bite. Porterhouse, I love you.
To be honest, nothing was going to top that main. Therefore, a passing comment on a very rushed sweet pancake dessert will suffice. Fresh strawberries, nicely presented and vanilla ice cream. Safe and functional. Well played.
Due to the flight schedules and tight deadlines a glorious 45minutes was all that the L&L marketing arm could afford at Vlados. A pity. Next time a more searching examination of the menu will be undertaken but for now, Messrs Trembath, Gooding and Fry, you have our sincere thanks. To the good people at 61 Bridge street, Richmond you have our admiration.